Actuarial Outpost
Go Back   Actuarial Outpost > Actuarial Discussion Forum > Careers - Employment
FlashChat Actuarial Discussion Preliminary Exams CAS/SOA Exams Cyberchat Around the World Suggestions

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 02-14-2017, 10:32 PM
baanotdorky baanotdorky is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 36
Default Take Another Exam or Learn Programming Language?

Hello! I'm new here so sorry if this isn't the right place to ask this...

I have worked a non-actuarial office job for two years now and recently decided to pursue becoming an actuary. Understanding that as a career changer I would need to find ways to stand out (and trying to follow advice already posted on this forum) I decided to complete exams as quickly as I could and since November 2016 have passed P, FM and C.

Currently, I am signed up to take MFE in March, but am wondering if it would be better to stop taking exams for a couple months and spend the time networking, practicing interview skills, and picking up a technical skill (either R or VBA). As it stands, I have used VBA, R, C++ and Stata in classes during college or on simple projects, but haven't used any of them in the past two years and wouldn't put them on my resume. The best answer might be "all of the above!" but honestly with a full time job I know that if I prepare for MFE in March there will be absolutely no time for anything else.

The short version of my question: would a fourth exam or adding a technical skill such as VBA give me a better chance at landing an interview/job offer for entry level positions?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2017, 10:38 PM
Abelian Grape's Avatar
Abelian Grape Abelian Grape is offline
Meme-ber                         Meme-ber
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 39,458

The marginal value added by "knowing" SQL/VBA from next to nothing beats having a fourth exam, IMO. Although given your good track record of passing the first 3 exams so quickly, if you can pass MFE by July (let alone March) while picking up the basics of the main languages, it'd look really good.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2017, 10:40 PM
MooBeay MooBeay is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,616

I say exam.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2017, 10:50 PM
Vorian Atreides's Avatar
Vorian Atreides Vorian Atreides is offline
Wiki/Note Contributor
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Hitler's Secret Bunker
Studying for ACAS
College: Hard Knocks
Favorite beer: Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
Posts: 61,047

If you need to learn a particular tool/language, you'll generally have company time to do that. Not necessarily the same for study time for Exams.

The question to ask is "what sort of actuarial career do you really want?" . . . which field of practice (P&C, L/H, ERM, etc.) do you want to target?

Given how "fast" the curriculum for both Societies are changing, you might find greater value getting all of the prelims done and then alternating between ASA modules and ACAS Online Courses as a way to bring you closer to those letters until you land a particular job after prelims are all tackled.
I find your lack of faith disturbing

Why should I worry about dying? Itís not going to happen in my lifetime!

Freedom of speech is not a license to discourtesy

Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2017, 11:13 PM
baanotdorky baanotdorky is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 36

Thank you all for the input. My gut was telling me the practical skills would be more helpful, but I hadn't considered that companies might be OK training someone with no experience in a particular tool/language. The whole reason I have this question is because I filled out a job application yesterday that had a check box: "I have basic programming skills such as VBA, R or another language." When I failed to check that box I imagined my application going straight to the trash.

Vorian, to be honest I have no idea which field of practice I want to go into. If I put off MFE until July one of the things I would do is try to reach out to actuaries in my area to gain some perspective on what is out there.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2017, 12:11 AM
R3d Anonymous R3d Anonymous is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 133

Why not both?
Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2017, 01:43 AM
redearedslider's Avatar
redearedslider redearedslider is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 12,963

Originally Posted by R3d Anonymous View Post
Why not both?
Originally Posted by Abraham Weishaus View Post
ASM does not have a discussion of stimulation, but considering how boring the manual is, maybe it would be a good idea.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2017, 04:27 AM
whoanonstop's Avatar
whoanonstop whoanonstop is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Studying for Spark / Scala
College: College of William and Mary
Favorite beer: Orange Juice
Posts: 5,717
Blog Entries: 1

If you have just an inkling of technical skills and have passed 3 or more exams, then checking off one more programming language or exam won't help you that much in this field. Those are not the problem.

At that point one should focus on being more interesting than a potato in interviews.

It is impossible to have a professional forum where the majority of your professionals are anonymous.

Map of Actuarial Hiring Companies
Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2017, 07:37 AM
Westley Westley is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,670

Riley said it won't help "in this field" - I assume he was responding to the specific question above, which is getting hired. Agree.

If comment was meant to apply to "in this field" broadly, then exam. You have to pass them eventually.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2017, 08:06 AM
lllj's Avatar
lllj lllj is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Studying for Exam 7
Posts: 5,036

Really, learning VBA at the level employers will expect doesn't take more than a few days. You can do this and also study for an exam, it's very doable.

If you learned the following in VBA you'd be ahead of the game in my opinion
Know how to record a macro and run that macro later
Know how to open the visual basic editor
Know how to write a sub that creates a message box that says hello world
Know how to write a function that takes an input of a number and adds 1 to it
Write a macro that pastes the number 10 into cell B5
Write a macro that loops through 10 cells and pastes numbers in them

No one's going to expect substantially more than that. Bonus points for learning what an event macro is and how to write one (get a macro to trigger when someone changes a cell, for example).

Once you know the above it's easy enough to play around and learn how to do other basic things. Just need to learn the basic loops and syntax for referencing cells.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:31 AM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
*PLEASE NOTE: Posts are not checked for accuracy, and do not
represent the views of the Actuarial Outpost or its sponsors.
Page generated in 0.27281 seconds with 9 queries